Bronze incense burner

From Korea
Koryo dynasty (AD 918-1392)

Used for Buddhist rituals and ceremonies

This incense burner would have been part of a larger set for ritual use on an altar in a Buddhist temple. Buddhism was the official religion of the Koryo dynasty (AD 918-1392) with a strong influence in almost every area of society. Many aristocrats would send their second-born sons to become Buddhist monks, who were generally revered.

The burner has a decorative pattern and characters in the Siddham script (an Indian form of Sanskrit, used to write invocations) inlaid in silver. The characters can be read anti-clockwise to make a mystic formula whose sounds, Om ram svāhā give the seed-syllable (bija-mantra) ram.

The burner is typical of the accomplished metalwork of the Koryo period. Incense burners were also made in celadon; the inlaid silver decoration on this recalls the sanggam technique used on celadon ware.

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More information

Bibliography

W. Zwalf (ed.), Buddhism: art and faith (London, The British Museum Press, 1985)

Dimensions

Height: 26.200 cm

Museum number

Asia OA 1936.11-18.196

RRC9953

Eumorfopoulos Collection

Location

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